Yugoslavia great Šekularac passes away

One of the greatest players in the former Yugoslavia, Crvena zvezda attacking midfielder Dragoslav Šekularac – a EURO finalist in 1960 – has died aged 81.

Dragoslav Šekularac (left) in training with Yugoslavia in 1965
Dragoslav Šekularac (left) in training with Yugoslavia in 1965 ©AFP

A giant in the former Yugoslavia, and a EURO finalist in 1960, Crvena zvezda great Dragoslav Šekularac has passed away at the age of 81.

Born in Stip – now part of FYR Macedonia – 'Šeki' made his name in an 11-year spell with 'Red Star' from 1955–66, the speedy attacking midfielder and expert dribbler scoring 119 goals in 375 games in all competitions for the Belgrade club, and winning five national titles and three Yugoslav Cups in the process.

Such was his reputation that he came close to joining Juventus in the late 1950s and starred in a full-length comedy film, 1962's Šeki snima, pazi se (Šeki is filming, look out). His 41 appearances for Yugoslavia included the final of the 1960 UEFA European Championship, which his side lost to the Soviet Union in Paris.

Having played abroad in Germany, the United States, Colombia and France in the latter stages of his career, Šekularac returned to the game as a coach, briefly rejoining Crvena zvezda in the early 1990s.

Fellow Crvena zvezda greats paid tribute to Šekularac. "He was a world wonder for us and as a kid I admired him," said forward Dušan Savić, while ex-midfielder Vladimir Petrović called him: "A player, a coach, a friend, a hero and a legend." Striker Stanislav Karasi added: "Before he left for Germany, I cleaned his boots before every training session. I adored him. He had a unique charisma and was nice to everyone. He had time for the young players and often left us money for ice cream. He was truly unique."

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